M is for Marriage – This story is about a married couple, Mary and Paul. Mary kept asking her husband these questions, hoping he would finally have an answer.

  • “How did you get us into this financial mess?”
  • “We have our bills, how are we going to pay them?”
  • “What are we going to do now?”
Can you prevent IRS tax debt from affecting your marriage?

Paul didn’t respond because he didn’t have an answer and shakes his head. They had been arguing again about their financial situation.

Paul owns a small business and was struggling to make ends meet. No matter what he did, he couldn’t bring in enough money to pay all of his bills. However, his employees received their paychecks as they were a necessary part of his business’s day-to-day operations. But he couldn’t pay the withholding tax every month. Before he knew it, he owed the IRS over $96,000 in back employment taxes, penalties, and interest. The IRS was sending threatening letters. Recently an IRS Revenue Officer showed up unannounced at his store demanding payment and threatening to close his doors.

Mary and Paul had no savings left. Whatever little money they had went into the business to keep it going. Paul kept Mary in the dark about the tax issue and used their money to keep the store open until IRS notices showed up in their home mailbox. The IRS was threatening to take their bank accounts and property.

Mary was in a panic. They were always fighting. She is scared and wants Paul to resolve the problem, but he has no idea where to turn or what to do. Paul Googled “tax help” for someone to help them with their problem, and he contacted me. He proceeds to tell me about his situation and then confides in me that his wife and kids went to stay at her sisters’ house. She is threatening to divorce him. I have seen this scenario many times before. There is no question that they are both in it together. Money is tight, and their lives are falling apart.

We talk, and I explain their options, and he understands that there is a way out of the situation they are in, but that it will take work and time. He says that his wife doesn’t want anything to do with the tax problem, and she made it clear that it was his problem alone to fix. Divorce seemed to be on the horizon. Their marriage was falling apart. The tax problems, the IRS’s threats were too much for her to bear, and the pressure was mounting.

I advised Paul that I need to discuss the matter with his wife, and he says that she won’t come in. I told him to try. A week later, the two of them came in. Paul walks in, and Mary follows her husband into my office.

I explained the options that I previously discussed with Paul and noted that Mary wasn’t buying it. I continued talking and asked Mary if she had any questions. Mary began ranting about how Paul had gotten them into this mess and wanted no part of the solution. She finally starts asking questions about the resolution options.

Cooperation is essential to solving your tax problem

I explain that if she and her husband do not cooperate to resolve the tax problem, it would be more challenging to resolve. We also talk about the situation that would occur if they decided to divorce. She acknowledged that she understood that the tax problem could be solved if they worked together in its resolution.

If they didn’t cooperate and started fighting each other, I would have to withdraw from representing either of them. Fighting would cause a conflict of interest, and I could not represent either one. And would delay any resolution of the tax debt and would cause further expense. And would have to hire someone new to represent either one or both of them.

After some time, Mary decides that there was indeed was a way out of this situation and was able to see the tax debt solution. Her lack of knowledge about the tax problem caused her to fear the worst possible outcome. She still holds Paul responsible for putting them in financial risk but understands what they needed to do. They would work together to solve the problem.

Get help to solve your tax problem

Tax problems are scary, especially if you do not understand how to fix the problem. But they don’t have to cause problems in your marriage. Learning more about the issue and having someone who is experienced in resolving these problems can help. It is always better to cooperate as a couple in approaching tax debt problems even if the rest of your marriage is falling apart. Financial issues are one of the top sources of problems in marriage.

Marital issues can be complicated, but there are steps that married couples can take to deal with tax debt. When dealing with tax debt, it would be wise to obtain a certified tax resolution specialist’s service.